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If you’re a stranger to massage or think it’s just for a vacation treat, think again. Massage is a key recovery tool for active athletes of all ages, including people over 50 who work out regularly, or run, play tennis, garden or participate in any kind of physical activity.


It’s one of many tools fitness professionals can use to help you at any time with body aches, inflammation, muscle tightness and more. And after a particular stress or injury, massage can speed up healing and get you back to feeling better.


“It has to be part of your self-care, especially as we are actively aging,” says Jackie, a trainer in her 50s. “Regular massages are great for keeping us moving optimally.”


Indeed, massage is on the maintenance menu for many people over 50 who stay in shape. They don’t wait till something happens. They use massage as prevention and regular self-care.


“It’s always so easy to put yourself on the back burner,” adds Remy, also over 50, who stretches daily, gets a massage weekly, and sees the chiropractor once a month. “It should be part of a health-oriented lifestyle for body and mind.”


Variety of styles


Various forms of massage have been practiced throughout the ages. Some focus on relaxation. Some focus on helping athletic people recover and perform better. Any licensed massage therapist can help determine the proper therapy, depending on what you want (even if it’s just relaxing – because there’s nothing wrong with that).

  • Swedish – Gentle, full-body. Nice introduction. Releases knotted muscles.

  • Deep-tissue – More intense but not painful. Good for injury, chronic problems, tight muscles.

  • Sports – Treats stress from repetitive motion, like those involved in sports.

  • Reflexology – Gentle to firm application on pressure points in feet, hands and ears.

  • Chair – If you’re in a hurry or haven’t had a massage before. Focuses on the neck, shoulders and upper back.

All of them help stimulate blood flow, soften hard tissue, stimulate the nervous system, and improve immunity.


Massage also gives us better sleep, which is essential for physical healing and mental health. It can even help with arthritis.


Touch alone reduces stress and helps us feel good. Everyone needs that, at any age.


'Particular value' for active agers


About 9 million people over 55 get a massage each year, according to the American Massage Therapy Association. The main reason? “Pain relief, soreness/stiffness and recovery from injury.”


The group says, “While integrating massage therapy into a health and wellness plan is useful for all ages, it holds particular value in the growing (over-50) population.”


Talk to us about massage therapy, chiropractic treatment, stretching and other ways to stay healthy while you’re staying active.

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Zucchini noodles — or zoodles — have become so popular that your grocery store probably sells them in the produce department. Plus, swapping zoodles for pasta noodles saves 200 calories and 40 grams of carbs per cup. For this recipe, either purchase them or make your own with a spiralizer. It’s a great way to use that summer zucchini and eat a delicious low-carb, fiber-rich meal. Wasabi paste varies in strength, so start with a teaspoon then taste the sauce, and add more if you can take the heat.


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (120ml) 0% Greek yogurt

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • teaspoon wasabi paste

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 4 cups (100g) baby spinach, coarsely chopped

  • 1 pound (450g) zucchini noodles, from 2 medium zucchinis

  • 1 pound (450g) cooked chicken breasts, about 3 cups, cubed

  • 16 grape tomatoes, halved

  • 1 medium avocado, pitted and sliced

Directions

In a cup, stir the yogurt, olive oil, honey, lemon juice, wasabi and salt. Reserve.

In each of four wide bowls, spread a cup of spinach, a heaping cup of zucchini noodles and top with 1/4 of the chicken, 4 halved grape tomatoes and 1/4 of the avocado. Drizzle with 2 heaping tablespoons of the yogurt mixture and serve.


Serves: 4 | Serving Size: about 3 cups/720ml


Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 261; Total Fat: 9g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Monounsaturated Fat: 6g; Cholesterol: 67mg; Sodium: 407mg; Carbohydrate: 15g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugar: 6g; Protein: 29g


From My Fitness Pal

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Meridith Ford was at work when the first hot flash hit.


“What in the world is happening to my body?” she remembers thinking a few years ago.


It was the onset of menopause, which brings lower levels of estrogen and other changes to women’s bodies. Post-menopausal women can have a higher risk of heart disease, weaker bones, and extra tummy fat.


For men at the same stage, testosterone drops off, so it’s harder to feel as vibrant and strong. And what’s often called a “beer belly” can come from having less human growth hormone.


Meridith, now 58, is a dessert chef and food writer. She always has worked out consistently with weights and cardio training. She credits that healthy lifestyle with keeping her menopause symptoms mild. But she has experienced joint pain and occasional weight gain.


“We all go through this drop in our hormones,” she says. “I stepped up the exercise and cut back some of my sweets. I don’t run great lengths anymore, and I’m devoted to yoga. I love what it’s done for my muscle tone.”


Science Shows Exercise Can Help


Hormones contribute to all aspects of our well-being, and it’s important that our bodies produce the right amounts. Mood swings, loss of strength, and a lower libido – all are common among people over 50 because of hormonal changes.


Aging is one of the factors beyond our control. But exercise can lessen symptoms brought by changing hormones – while also boosting quality of life, lowering aches and pains, and bringing countless physical and mental benefits.


“Hormones are substances produced by your endocrine glands that have a tremendous effect on bodily processes,” says WebMD. “They affect growth and development, mood, sexual function, reproduction, and metabolism.”


The National Society of Sports Medicine focuses on hormones related to weight loss.

“When kept in balance, these hormones have the largest effect on metabolism,” the organization says. “When out of balance, they can prevent your client from achieving the fitness results they desire.”


Recent studies have reported an anti-aging effect of exercise on the endocrine system including positive changes in cortisol (also known as the stress hormone), growth hormone and insulin. Here are some other ways exercise can help improve hormone health:


  • Physical activity can affect hormonal health regarding insulin, which lets cells take up protein for energy and muscle. Too much can cause a range of health problems. Aerobic exercise, strength training, and endurance exercise can help.

  • Exercise, including weightlifting, boosts testosterone, growth hormone and others to add strength and sex drive while slowing some natural effects of aging.

  • Raising your heart rate for 30 minutes every day boosts estrogen to relieve menopause symptoms.

  • Exercise increases dopamine to reduce stress and depression. It’s what causes “runner’s high.”


Other Ideas for Hormone Health


Everyone is different, and your hormone health is complex for men and women alike. Discuss any health questions with your doctor. Also keep in mind:


  • Eat plenty of protein to maintain healthy muscles, bones and skin. Protein also affects hormones that control hunger.

  • Avoid sugar, which can play havoc with insulin and insulin resistance.

  • Manage stress. Cortisol and adrenaline play helpful roles, but too much can contribute to overeating, high blood pressure, and anxiety.

  • Get plenty of fiber, which helps produce hormones that make you feel full.

For healthy living after 50, you’re in the driver’s seat to manage exercise, medical care, diet, stress and more. We are here to help.



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